Brangelina, Meet My Luggage

As the move to China edges ever nearer, my OCD-like need for organization and control is kicking in to overdrive.  The fact that the last week has been filled with *huge* forward progress is only serving to add fuel to the crazy-lady fire. (Chinese visas have come back, pack-out has been scheduled and tickets to LA and on to Chengdu have been issued!)  It doesn’t help that I’m done with ConGen, that all of our visitors have come and gone and now I have all day to sit and fret about minor details.

One particular point has recently embedded itself in my brain, much like a grain of sand would do in an oyster. (Clam? Mussel? You know, the sea-dwelling, hinged-shelled creature that inadvertently makes lovely jewelry for my fingers and wrists and neck.) Well, the hours of irritating my mind finally paid off with a jewel (or a plan as the case may be) while I was in the shower this morning. (Why is it that the shower is the home to so many brilliant ideas? I used to come up with the best lesson plan ideas while I was in the shower- ways to make kids enjoy writing sonnets or a great new expository essay idea or the perfect activity to help solidify Greek and Latin word parts in the minds of 8th graders.) Anyway, what is this latest tiny nuisance? Luggage. Baggage. Suitcases. Call it what you will, but when moving to the middle of China for two years (and then to lands unknown) the specifics become quite important.

The issue, percolating in my brain, has been about how to get the maximum use out of the luggage allowances we are given, especially providing that the rest of our belongings will arrive anywhere from a month to two months after we set foot in Chengdu. This means planning both casual and work-wear. (Yes, I said work!  I’ve had two job interviews in the past week, which look promising. An added bonus to interviewing via phone from the opposite side of the globe is that pajamas are a perfectly acceptable outfit to wear while discussing your background in education and your enthusiasm for taking on a variety of projects at the same time.) But clothing isn’t the only thing that has to go in those bags. With the rest of our shipment weeks, or months out, daily use items like dishwasher soap, mosquito spray and alarm clocks need to be considered as well.

The State Department allows each family member to check two bags as part of the travel process. Thad and I each bought a large, hard-shelled suitcase last spring as we prepared to move out here. (While I love the color and size of these cases, I do have regrets. They are too heavy!  When nearly ten of my allotted fifty pounds are spent on the container itself, I end up having empty space inside because I am over on weight before I run out of room! Lesson learned.)  So that is two bags, both in good condition. I own another roller-bag, (this one sporting an adorable 70s floral pattern) that is a perfect size for carry-on.  Last week, I ordered Thad a nice shoulder-strapped garment bag for his suits. The one we brought to DC with us is not only too small to fit his growing suit collection, but it is definitely not high quality. I’ve seen what China can do to luggage (on our first move there, my bag came off the carousal in Chengdu looking like it had been used as a buffer in an epic battle between kung-fu pandas.)  Figuring we’ve both got two arms (okay, mine may be weak and lacking in the strength department, but they can pull a suitcase or two), so we each have two rolling bags. That means we’ve currently got an empty hand!

Luggage shopping, here I come!

I knew just what we needed to take that final, coveted spot in our baggage family. I’d seen this bag several months ago, have visited it at the store several times and finally, today, adopted it into our diverse luggage home. (My baggage collection is a bit like Angelina Jolie’s family. I see it. I like it. I add it. It doesn’t matter if it matches what I already have.)  This newest bag is a bit of dark maroon, paisley-pattered perfection. This little guy (okay, not so little, especially once expanded) fills out our last spot. Now, I can roll my hard-shell and one other case. Thad can roll his hard-shell and one other case. (I told him I would carry his garment bag, since I am the one who wants the extra bag to begin with, but we all know when the time comes, I’ll be much to wimpy to actually roll two bags, have my own carry-on and haul the suit bag. But, it sounds good for now.)

So, with that bit of sand successfully coated in slime until it became a beautiful sphere of pearl, my mind is free to conjure up the next unnecessarily worrisome detail. 5 weeks and counting…

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